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Published: Saturday, 6/30/2007

Mosque, Islamic school moving to church building

BY DAVID YONKE
BLADE RELIGION EDITOR
The Masjid Saad mosque will move into the former Cathedral of Praise church building on West Alexis Road. The Masjid Saad mosque will move into the former Cathedral of Praise church building on West Alexis Road.
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A Toledo mosque and Islamic school that outgrew their facilities on Secor Road are moving into the former Cathedral of Praise church on West Alexis Road, which they bought for $2.7 million.

Masjid Saad, a mosque with between 400 and 500 members, bought the main church building and a former school on 15 acres just west of Whiteford Road.

Dr. Abed Alo, a member of the mosque's board of directors, said the Masjid Saad Foundation, 4346 Secor Rd., had been looking for a suitable site for about three years before settling on the old Cathedral of Praise.

The former church building features a 1,500-seat sanctuary, 35 classrooms and offices, a small kitchen, and a large conference room.

Dr. Alo said "minimal renovation" will be needed to convert the main church building into a mosque and that there are no plans to remove a 50-foot cross depicted in a stained-glass window that faces Alexis Road.

Most of the construction work will involve the Toledo Islamic Academy, which is moving into the former Cathedral Christian Academy on McGregor Lane on the south end of the property, he said.

The Rev. Tony Scott, pastor of Cathedral of Praise since 1974, led the effort to build the Alexis Road building, which was appraised at $1.6 million when it opened in November, 1983.

He said the church put the property up for sale in March, 2005, when it was getting ready to move into the former Aeroquip-Vickers corporate headquarters in Monclova Township.

Cathedral paid $7 million for the 120,000-square-foot facility on Strayer Road, about $5 million under its appraised value. A grand opening celebration was held in September, 2005, and Cathedral of Praise now averages a total attendance of between 1,300 and 1,400 at three weekend services.

Mr. Scott said the church plans to use the proceeds from the sale of its former building toward the costs of a new auditorium-style sanctuary at the Strayer Road site. The new auditorium will seat 2,500 and already has been designed by the Collaborative, the same firm that designed the corporate offices for its original owner, Trinova Corp., in 1989.

Cathedral won't break ground, however, until it sells another eight acres it owns on the north side of Alexis, across from the old church, according to Mr. Scott.

The Toledo Islamic Academy, founded in 1995 by Masjid Saad, has between 150 and 200 students enrolled from prekindergarten to high school.

The new facility includes a gym, a cafeteria, classrooms, and a playground area.

Masjid Saad began as a small Islamic prayer group in the 1980s at the University of Toledo. Members met in homes in the UT area until moving to Secor Road.

The mosque adheres to the Sunni branch of Islam but is open to all Muslims, according to Ziad Hummos, president of the board.

He said about 30 percent of Toledo's Muslims are Shias, but the mosque does not make such distinctions.

"We are all Muslims," he said.

The mosque is without an imam, or spiritual leader, after the departure last year of Imam Aly Lela.

Contact David Yonke at:

dyonke@theblade.com

or 419-724-6154.



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